Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Working Overtime

Sweetie and I were sitting in our usual places a few nights ago, just listening to the wind when I asked him, "What are you thinking?" I know, typical female question!

Once again, we discovered our minds run along the same track. He said, "I think we need to double up on our preps and work our butts off these next couple months."

We've often said we'd like to complete X number of projects this year due to our health issues. And now, with my Dad here, much of our time is scheduled around how he's feeling or what his appointments are. To top it off, Sweetie has basal cell cancer on his right temple and will have surgery next month.

So the past week or so we've exhausted ourselves with fencing, fire wood, vehicle repairs, prepping and small remodel/repair projects in the house.

Today, I'm paying for it big time. Dad and I went for our second walk of the day and he had to finish it by himself. I sat on the side of the road and waited for Sweetie to pick me up. As I watched Dad shuffle down the road I thought, "We're really in a pickle if he trips..."

His mental faculties are so mixed up lately that he usually can't figure out how to operate his cell phone and I didn't have mine on me. Not a good situation but fortunately he made it home (about 800 feet) and got Sweetie.

So I'll couch serf until this bout of the drunken sailor syndrome passes and get back to work soon, I hope.

In the meantime we have 12 more cases of vegetables, a six-bottle case of Corn oil, 20#s each of white and wheat flour, and four flats of tuna fish to stash someplace. Next week when our cash is replenished I'll do more shopping. I haven't started a garden yet as we still have temps in the low 30's at night. I wish I had a crystal ball to know what the growing season's weather will be. Sweetie says it will be a cold, windy summer. Thus far that's been our Spring weather.

Well, keep prepping folks. Treesong

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Unbelievable, Just Unbelievable

Since my last post I've realized human nature sure is a strange character.

If you present the facts to a person; explain them slowly, patiently and clearly; and then repeat yourself a dozen times it's no guarantee the other party will comprehend one word. Not one. No wonder there are sheeple in the world.

We've spent hours installing the fencing along our south property line. We've talked to all but three property owners in this little plat. We've pointed out the trash piles as we haul other people's junk off our land. We've provided everyone with pictures of the blight and "stored stuff," copies of our survey, our deed and the local blight ordinance. And yet, we're asked, "Why are you putting up a fence?"


And still our actions are interpreted as being unfriendly, unneighborly, stuck up, insensitive and just plain stupid. Amazing; simply amazing.

Kind of reminds me of all those phone calls and emails to Congress when the TARP and the health care abomination were being "debated." No matter how many times or ways they were told, the message fell on deaf ears.

So this morning, bright and early, as most people were still in bed, I took the rake and walked along the south line. Within three hours I had piled a row of Red Pine needles and brush beyond the first two rows of trees - well away from the fence. It's unsightly and a fire hazard and I was determined to clean it up. Later today I'll load it all into our truck bed, dump it in a pit on our land and wait for winter when it will be burnt.

As I was walking home along the road a neighbor drove up in his truck and stopped. "You know, that area looks so much nicer when it's raked."

Amazing words considering they came from the mouth of pontoon boat man. Wonders never cease.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Since Dad's Decision

We've worked nearly non-stop since Sunday morning moving Dad's 25-plus year accumulation from his rental home. Thank God, he'd been "downsizing" for the last couple years.

The garage and basement were already clear; the one bedroom house was mainly a dust-covered collection of US Coast Guard memorabilia, books and a small amount of kitchen equipment. The only furniture we moved here was his washer/dryer, file cabinet and bookcase.

For the past couple days he's been sorting through most of what we hauled here and made ample use of "the round file." He owned at least 20 jackets and a dozen afghans and most still remain here. There is a memory attached to most of them and it's hard to let go of any so I told him keep what he wants right now and we'll pack the rest away. "Good idea," he said.

Remarkably, my siblings have been civil. The sister I seldom see has had the most contact with us and been the only one, plus my sister-in-law, to help with any of this move.

Tonight Sweetie said he hoped we could find time to install more fence. I said it sounded like a great change of past. My Dad overheard this and said, "Yeah, you guys install fence and I'll watch; I'm tired of sorting." So we're all on the same page.

My Dad was always a big music fan and devoted listener to NPR radio. Yesterday, while Sweetie was in his recliner and I was sacked out on the sofa, we were jolted awake by loud rock 'n roll music. From where we were we could look down the hall. Here's my Dad shuffling down the hall pretending to dance. It was hilarious but the music was on volume 100!!!! I told him the riff-raff lived next door - not here! So he turned around and lowered the volume to 70 - still ear shattering.

My Dad was also a collector of vacuum cleaners. Three remained at his home after he came here in January - a Bissel, an Oreck and a batter powered Shark. We brought the Shark home today and told Dad, "now each of us has a vacuum here." He smiled and said, "I thought I was living in my retirement home."

We have yet to figure out what to do about the dishwasher. I've been lobbying for help in the kitchen and finally said, "My birthday and Mother's Day fall within a week of one another, so a dishwasher would be a nice gift." Sweetie pointed to the bag of paper and foam plates we brought from Dad's. My father said, "You don't need to worry about what model of dishwasher you get. We have the Suzann model and it's the best."

Cute aren't they?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dad's Decision

My father decided Friday to remain here full time and give up his rental home. We're relieved and he's admitted he really doesn't want to leave us.

There is, of course, more to the story. While on a walk yesterday he said he had "to be honest" with me. "I've waited for two years for your brother to invite me to stay at the farm with him," he said. "It's not going to happen and I don't want to be alone any more."

Dad's always claimed he'd be carried out of his house feet first. Truth be told, he wanted to die at the farm where he raised us. My brother owns the place but is seldom there. As Dad said, his four day visit to the farm while "the ass" was home "was the most time he's spent with me in 25 years."

My brother is what I call a professional soldier. He takes assignments from various governments or US agencies; is gone for months on end, often not letting anyone know where; and seldom contacts Dad. He's a self-absorbed, arrogant jerk who has no patience for anyone who's no in "top form." An elderly, infirm man cramps his style. Dad said he did his best to "keep up with him" as he worked around the farm or shopped in town but finally realized he was "wearing himself out."

His son's life is all about getting drunk and impressing people. He throws big parties; buys dinner and rounds of drinks for 20 or more; and sits around drunk telling fascinating stories of his exploits. In the meantime his fourth wife dutifully carries out whatever "orders and instructions" he yells at her; manages the bill payments and projects he's commissioned; and cries with loneliness while he has multiple affairs.

It's a sad, pathetic life for both of them and my Father, who used to keep his son on a pedestal, has grown angry and weary. Remarkably, my brother saw no changes in Dad and told his wife, "there's nothing wrong with him that a few drinks wouldn't cure." This statement comes from a man with high blood pressure and gout who claims he'll never grow old. Given his lifestyle, he may be right.

So, today we move my Dad's bookcase, pictures, file cabinet and clothing. He says he'll contact my siblings and his grandkids about any furniture they may want, otherwise it'll be left behind. His SUV is here and he knows he can drive anywhere anytime he chooses so he hasn't "lost all his freedom." Aside from my brother's behavior, it's the "slowing down, getting older" part that troubles him most. Sweetie and I are a few steps behind him in that department, so we're good company for one another. Together, the three of us will carry on.

In a day or so I'll post on my
Living In La, La Land
blog. We met with the township supervisor yesterday regarding the fence, the garbage and the general attitude of a few neighbors. It was an interesting meeting.

Have a great day and keep prepping. Treesong

Friday, April 9, 2010

And So the Day Begins

Sunny, windy, no snow and 32 degrees here today. Sweetie's gone to salvage some garage door panels and Dad's just getting up. I've read a few blogs and sent an email to a friend in Tuscon.

Still waiting for an email from the Township Supervisor about his arrival time this weekend. If history repeats itself, we could be waiting months. Looked back through my old emails and found I first contacted him on July 27, 2009. Snow was not covering the ground then as was his latest excuse for not showing up last November. In fact, we didn't have any snowfall until 9 days after I called him in November! But, I must remind myself I'm trying to communicate with a politician.

Speaking of them, Rep. Bart Stupak has announced his retirement. Now that he's done optimum damage guess there's greener pastures elsewhere.

The man who bought 34 acres to the north of us has stakes in the ground marking his future driveway and utility pole. On my morning walk I introduced myself as he was hauling trash off his land. Imagine that! Another property owner clearing debris from his property!!!! I invited him to stop by for coffee and said we'd be happy to show him the trash remaining on our land. That perked up his ears so we walked to his south boundary - our north line - and I pointed out the mess in the distance. From that line to the fence wreckers' place is 209 feet and without any leaves on the trees it's an interesting view, to say the least.

The poor guy said, "I walked all over my land early this spring and didn't see much trash." I said we'd done the same thing and learned NO ONE should look at snow covered land and make an offer.

So, I'm hopeful that we'll have one SANE neighbor. Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Face Cord

Someone asked, so I'll answer.

A standard face cord measures 8 feet long by 4 feet high by 16 inches in depth. Three face cord equals one cord. The depth/length of the wood can be more or less than 16 inches and the price will reflect this. Most people use 16 inch pieces of fire wood. We are currently paying $45 per face cord for hard maple and oak and we pick it up nine miles from here. Our supplier is going to place a trailer beneath his wood processor conveyor & fill it to the brim. After measuring how many FACE cord it will fill (he estimates five) the price to unload the trailer (thus saving him the time of stacking cords of wood) will be $140 - a great savings to us.

Well gotta scoot. Sweetie has an opthamology appointment this morn.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Progress Today

After unloading and stacking two face cord of firewood, we gathered supplies and headed for the infamous fence line. Two hours later we had installed 200 feet of fence and changed our plans with regard to where we'll eventually install the gate. Uneven terrain, the guide wire from a utility pole and easier digging made the decision for us. For now we ran fence without leaving a gate opening. Sweetie said he'll frame the gate, insert the cedar posts, cut the fencing and tack it onto his gate frame.

Pontoon guy came outside while we were working but ignored us. When we were done fencing for today, Sweetie pulled into his yard and went inside to inquire about the pontoon. It had been for sale but has now sold. Thank God, as I consider it a piece of junk. Sweetie thought he'd use the pontoon as an opening to discuss moving the stuff off our lot line. The neighbor was not very talkative and after a quick cup of coffee we left.

To me, both men were avoiding the elephant in the room, so to speak. I felt both men were waiting for the other to say something about the fenceline. Sweetie said he'll "let him stew; he knows what we're doing." My take on the situation is: be direct. Say the stuff has to be moved within a week, then deal with his reaction. Sweetie doesn't confront directly because he wants to avoid a blow up - from both of them!

Once back at the house, I asked if we were going to fence all areas except the two neighbors who have junk on our land. He said since the one neighbor (who removed fence last fall) isn't here now, we'll install posts along his north/our south line, "so when he arrives he realizes he has to move his stuff." The man was told last fall he had to move stuff!

Avoidance at its best IMO. But Sweetie is the BOSS, so we'll see how well the BOSS's plan proceeds.

I'll leave it to you all to wonder what BOSS stands for.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of our progress. The camera konked out.

Well time for chicken and rice casserole, salad and peach pie. Have a great day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Residents of NJ City Claim Cops Worse Than Criminals

The story below is just one example of police corruption. Too bad we don't hear more about CONgressional corruption where the office holders are actually removed from their jobs, investigated and prosecuted.

CAMDEN, N.J. – Josephine Skinner's grandson Dequan was 11 or 12 years old a few summers ago when she says he had a run-in with a Camden police officer who neighbors claim terrorized them for years.

As the youth crossed the street to buy a soda at a store, she said Officer Jason Stetser — known on the streets as "Fat Face" — sprang from his cruiser.

"He grabbed my grandson and said he had $100 of stuff on him," Skinner said. "They tried to lock him up."

For years, residents say some police officers have bullied them in this impoverished city, making cases by planting drugs on suspects, falsifying police reports, and conducting searches without warrants. Now four officers, including Stetser, are being investigated by a federal grand jury.

And prosecutors say they've had to drop charges or vacate convictions in 185 criminal cases because of possibly corrupt police work — meaning scores of criminals could end up returning to drug-infested streets.

Another of Skinner's grandchildren, 15-year-old Artice Skinner, said he witnessed the episode between Stetser and Dequan and saw Stetser hold out his hand, overflowing with crack cocaine that the police officer said came from Dequan's pocket.

Skinner said Dequan was released after an aunt explained that he wasn't the neighborhood child police were looking for.

"The cops were more of a problem than the crime was," said Josephine Skinner.

Their Waterfront South neighborhood has breathed a little easier since November, when Stetser and at least three other officers were taken off the streets as authorities began their investigation.

Stetser's lawyer, Richard Madden, declined to comment.

Among those suspended was 29-year-old patrolman Kevin Parry. On March 19, he admitted in court that he stole drugs from some suspects, planted them on others, bribed prostitutes with drugs for information, conducted searches without warrants, lied on police reports and in testimony, and roughed up suspects. He acknowledged 50-70 acts of police misconduct from May 2007 to October 2009.

Residents say it was not uncommon for some officers to greet locals by punching them, using force to intimidate. The threat of criminal charges was the main police currency.

Things I Saw Along The Way

It does a soul good to get out of Dodge once in awhile and see how others in the country are faring. Not that I didn't have a clue; but seeing is believing, as they say.

My route took me south on US41 to the Covington Junction, then east on M28 to Highway 117. From there it's a short hop south to US2, then east again to the Mackinaw Bridge. Thus far I saw little change but then my route was mainly rural. Baraga, Marquette, Munising and a few smaller towns had a couple more vacant storefronts and homes for sale. If I lived in one of these towns probably the changes would be more apparent.

Lower Michigan was another matter.

As I approached the bridge two cop cars were parked at the on-ramp. On the bridge, a cop was parked at each turn off on either side of the hill. Two more cops were parked at the first exit after the bridge. Either they were waiting for someone or having a Homeland Security exercise. I waved at the bridge camera after the toll booth on the St. Ignace side to acknowledge their watchful eye.

From the bridge it's an easy drive south on I-75 to Highway 127 which continues south toward Lansing. I exited west on Highway 46 toward Edmore. My destination was north of Ionia.

I've driven this route at least 90 times in 30 years so I notice "change." As expected, there were plenty of empty storefronts and partially completed building projects. Of note was a residential area east of 127 near Mt. Pleasant. "The American Dream" was lost in a sea of overgrown yards and vacant homes.

A much clearer picture of our economic decline continued west along Highway 46. Like I told Sweetie, it was a 22 mile yard sale. If I'd been driving the truck I could have chosen between pontoons, boats, motors, motorcycles, log splitters, mowers, tractors, balers, trucks, cars, golf carts, furniture, building materials, fencing, generators, books, clothing, knick knacks and appliances.

Driving around the Ionia area I saw much the same, though the vacant/foreclosed homes were most obvious. A megamansion south of Ionia on over 20 acres had recently been sold for about $260,000. It was rumored to have cost twice that to build. The swimming pool and fountain will require major work; the race track downhill from the house has weeds growing through the pavement; and whomever bought the place must believe their fortunes will fare better than the previous owners.

A friend from a neighboring town took a drive with me one day and we wound up counting empty homes while reminiscing about who lived where years ago. After 70 homes we stopped counting. It was too depressing. Ionia's downtown is nearly vacant and food pantries do a booming business.

The elderly friend I stayed with has her scanner on 24-7. Robberies, domestic disputes, property damage, road rage, driving without a licence, no insurance or plates, drug busts and alcohol induced fights are the norm. After listening to the scanner for two days I decided against taking an evening stroll through her neighborhood. On the third day a visitor asked me how it felt to "get out of the sticks." I said the "sticks" were safer and quieter. She said, "The quiet would drive me nuts." I told her it's a matter of what you're conditioned to: violence and noise or peace and quiet.

On my drive home I had plenty of time to reflect. It amazes me that I ever lived in a city, small town or even a crossroads with six houses. Ionia is a prison town so it attracts the families of prisoners. Add to the mix commercial farms who hire migrants and being located near the I-96 drug corridor and you have a volatile mix.

There are only four people who bring me back to that area and soon that number will dwindle. I'm thankful for the friendships and the memories for they're all that's left in a decaying area.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Home Again

Arrived home at 7 p.m. It was a long drive with frequent stops. Had lots of leg cramps and no sleep the previous night.

Tears me up to leave my elderly friend in the conditions she lives in. Imagine for a moment an elderly woman who's lost her sight, has a broken pelvis and is about a size 3, living alone with her dog that pees and poops on the floor. Imagine further that she receives frequent phone calls from people who profess to care about her but do very little for her. Her daughter and son-in-law (my ex) did drop off their garbage. Too much trouble for a GM retiree to pay for garbage pick up. The ex did took the dog outside while the daughter complained that the house stunk.

Her 80-year-old sister called screaming at her that she can no longer stay alone & ordered her to have me drop her off at her house. The sister and her husband are both dying of cancer, use wheelchairs and have an obese alcoholic son next door who sometimes helps them. So the situation is similar to hers.

I took her for two rides; the first time she's left the house in 8 weeks. I cleaned her stove top for an hour and a half and removed the burner handles so she has to rely on the microwave. I vacuumed, dusted, washed bedding and cleaned the frig. We read the instructions on TV dinners and glued pieces of foam to the microwave buttons that she needs to use - our version of braille.

I washed her hair, gave her a back rub and trimmed her finger and toe nails. The ex's former girlfriend is helpful but has issues - which my friend hears about daily. She was concerned I would take her place, wants the furniture arranged differently because "it would look better," and is a woman who has no friends. When we went for a ride she suggested we stop by. We didn't and that pissed her off. The next morning she called told my friend, "You are coming by today, aren't you?" My friend said she's wanted to show off her home. So we relented. Well...

I don't collect unicorns and Jimmy Johnson Nascar junk so I wasn't impressed. The small three bedroom ranch is cluttered with collections that overflow tables, china cabinets, buffets and bookshelves. I was claustrophobic and sat at her dining table thinking of all the money she'd wasted. According to my friend, her life is all about the price tag. Sure enough as we toured the house I heard, "I paid...for that. And that I got on sale for ..." She had just spent $1700 on a flat screen TV and ordered more unicorns. And of course, she complains about not having enough money.

Oh well.

My sister-in=law just texted to my computer. My brother and one sister are meeting Dad for breakfast. He's bringing his med minder in case he gets to stay with his son a few days. Sister-in-law says it's a pow-wow where Dad's being told he has to return home.

He and Sweetie picked his car up Tuesday & he drove himself to his doc appointments, then came home exhausted. He's trying hard to condition himself to prove he can be trusted to drive and be on his own. Then my other ex who lives here - the nurse who was fired for nearly killing a patient, the one I was married to when I cracked up - called to tell Dad he'll check on him daily at home, set up his meds and be sure he has "something to do every day" - a sly reference to us "not getting out much."

Oh well, again.

As far as we're concerned, we've done the best we can with Dad. He made the decision to stay the winter here. He was warm, safe, loved, fed, and the center of our attention. None of the family, except relatives downstate and my sister-in-law, are grateful he was here. The others focus on how terrible it must be to live in the sticks with two crazy people who prep.

Have to remember, opinions are like you know what and let it go.

Was nice to sleep in my own bed. Today I'll do laundry answer a stack of emails. Then we'll unload the car, organize preps and collapse for awhile.

Have a great day, Treesong